/ NEWS: Ice Axes on Eurostar Trains

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UKC News - on 31 Mar 2010
[DMM Rebel Axe, 1 kb]Following an approach from a member, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) has clarified the procedure that mountaineers need to follow if they wish to travel with ice tools on Eurostar trains.
Eurostar has a policy of not allowing certain items that could be used as weapons...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=52717
ClimberEd - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC News:

Hmm was this is a case of don't ask and just get on with it.....

(and so now there is extra hassle caused by drawing attention and clarification)

Or were people actually having problems in practice.
Flashy - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC News:

There has been some discussion on the Eagle Ski Club mailing list regarding this since about October last year.

Eventually the ESC, together with the BMC and CC wrote to Eurostar in the hope of having this rule relaxed. Eurostar replied that the rules were in place for a reason and would not be changed.

It's a shame, as being able to carry your luggage on board made the train a viable alternative to flying and so was an excellent option for those concerned about their 'carbon footprint'. Those of us who want convenient, reliable and relatively low-stress transportation will continue to use our cars.
Es Tresidder - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to Flashy: Interesting. I've taken ice axes on eurostar trains I would estimate at least 15 times in the last 5 years. I've often had my bag searched, usually because they have spotted the axes on the scanner, but I've never been stopped.

Last time it happened they unpacked my whole kit bag, when we got to my ice axes, I said something like "it'll be these you're after", but no, those were fine they said and kept on looking, finally finding the offending item - a small penknife!
MJH - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to Es Tresidder: Sadly it feels more like a money making scheme than an objective assessment of risks. I mean are they going to stop people taking ski poles on the ski trains as according to their rules "could be used to commit an act of violence or threat will also not be allowed".

One of the huge advantages of the Eurostar is that it wasn't governed to the same security standards as airlines, if they take that away they will start to lose business.
Jim at Craigdhu - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC News:

Presumably their concern is that the ice axe can be used to threaten the train driver, hijack the train and crash it into a building full of innocents!

What are camping tools? Are burners (ie the stove minus the cylinders) also banned? The security staff at Liverpool and Stansted airports wouldn't let me take mine on the plane, although Easyjet said it was ok.
Tobias at Home - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC News: what a sad world we live in...
neilinut on 31 Mar 2010 - 88.128.84.142 whois?
In reply to UKC News:

This world is getting crazy... what if you remove the picks?

I used to walk or catch the bus to ju jitsu with a sword (in a scabbard and then tied in a purpose made bag so it could not be drawn) and other weapons wrapped in my belt at the bottom of my bag with other stuff on top of it numerous times a week in 1980s manchester. I doubt you would get away with that now.
Mark Torrance on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to Es Tresidder:
> I've often had my bag searched, usually because they have spotted the axes on the scanner, but I've never been stopped.

My one experience was the same. Once they saw they were ice axes and understood their purpose I was waived through (a bit bizarre really). I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has actually been stopped from boarding. Eurostar and then the weekend sleeper from Paris is a more pleasant and responsible way of travelling to Chamonix than either flying or car.
always_falling on 31 Mar 2010 - acces1333.res.insa-lyon.fr
In reply to UKC News:

Airlines and now Eurostar... supposed security measures intended to increase revenue.

Take airlines for instance, you can't carry a pair of tweezers in hand luggage but buying a glass bottle of spirits in duty free just before boarding the plane is ok...which is more dangerous?
Flashy - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to Es Tresidder: Indeed, a few people had the same experience as you; none had anything confiscated.

While you get away with it, it's always going to be a niggle at the back of your mind though.
beh on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to Es Tresidder:
> (In reply to Flashy) I've often had my bag searched, usually because they have spotted the axes on the scanner, but I've never been stopped.
Aye, that's also my experience of it when I traveled with them in December.

Tobias at Home - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to always_falling:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> Airlines and now Eurostar... supposed security measures intended to increase revenue.
>
> Take airlines for instance, you can't carry a pair of tweezers in hand luggage but buying a glass bottle of spirits in duty free just before boarding the plane is ok...which is more dangerous?

compared to getting metal cutlery in business/first class...neither

as you say, simply a revenue measure masked as a security measure.
daWalt on 31 Mar 2010
I hope the MCoS hasn't given them the idea for creating a new revenue stream. (like the phraseology there)
I would understand if there was a persistent problem and I would expect them to take up the issue on climbers behalf. The last few post seem to suggest that this isn't the case.

personal opinion here, but things often work better if there is not and official policy statement, procedural document or other BS.
People should just be left to get on with life.
Es Tresidder - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to MJH: I dunno, but don't ask them about ski poles!

Es Tresidder - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to Mark Torrance: Yes, it's funny isn't it. Like "oh, we've established you've got a potentially lethal weapon, great, on you go"!

I once had a similar experience on a ferry. I was going on as a foot passenger, but heading to the alps so had climbing kit with me. They clearly had never seen ice axes before (it was the Rosyth to Zeebrugge ferry), they asked me whether I used them in the Ochils much! They ummed and arred for a while about what to do, then settled on saying I could board so long as I didn't let the bags out of my site for the entire (18hour) journey. They seemed to be more concerned about the risk of "some nutter" getting access to my lethal weapons and staging a massacre of the old biddies listening to the Dire Straits cover band (who were dire) in the lounge bar than about the risk that I might be a nutter.

I will continue travelling by train, I'm not going to the hassle of booking a bag in, if I have any problems I'll report back on here. I suspect I won't.

neilinut on 31 Mar 2010 - 80.187.149.96 whois?
In reply to Tobias at Home:

I actually don't agree that this is a revenue generator for airlines. One of the advantages of business class used to be taking 2 pieces of carry on luggage and far fewer are paying the premium for BC now since that other for a trip for a couple of nights you are going to end up waiting for luggage at arrivals.

chiz - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to UKC News: hmmm. Been through in the past several times with axes inside my bag. Plus assorted knives, pitons, folding saw, petrol stove and ropes. No problem ever. Usually just got asked if I was going to the alps, followed by a 'bon escalade'.
Went once with mate who had his axe strapped on the outside of his rucksack, but he put a sock over the end so that was fine apparently!
A few years ago I actually phoned to clarify the rules about pointy things and stoves and was told to talk to the manager on duty, which left things a bit in the air. Got away with it (again) that time, but the uncertainty of whether I would get the stuff on was a bit stressful. I was always surprised at the laxness of the rules at the time.
bsavage - on 31 Mar 2010
I have had a difference experience: the last time I tried to travel using Eurostar I was stopped and when they searched my luggage confiscated all my gas knives etc. Luckily I was not carrying axes or anything of huge expense and managed to convince them that the rest of my rack was not an offensive weapon. However when I queried why my stuff was being seized and if there was anyway of sending it home, I was informed that if was not relinquishing the items immediately that they would call the transport police. Again I questioned why this was happening and the man who was searching me promptly call security. This was not the best way to start a trip.
I would therefore recommend checking the current rules (link above) before you travel or me prepared to lose some stuff.

Ben
chiz - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to bsavage: Bad luck. At least now there are rules hopefully we will know where we stand and avoid cr*p scenarios like you had. As I say, it was the uncertainty about whether you could get through ok or not that stressed me. To some extent I'd rather know and plan accordingly.

Although if you need 1-2 hours to book in your bag there goes one real advantage of Eurostar over planes of being able to just turn up and go without hanging about for hours.

Does anyone know if there is a way of booking your luggage on in advance so you don't need to be there?
Misha - on 31 Mar 2010
In reply to neilinut:

> what if you remove the picks?

Excellent idea, if it's possible. The numptees on the xrays won't even know what the shafts are. Put the picks in a separate bag or perhaps in the middle of your rack and they might not even spot them on the xray.

Haven't had problems in the past though have had bags searched a few times. Last time I travelled on Eurostar was last summer, so perhaps the rules have been tightened up since then.
owrehleeoh on 01 Apr 2010
In reply to UKC News:

I had an experience where I was travelling to France and had an axe in my bag. The security guys were very reasonable and suggested I check the item as suggested in the article. They even walked me back out through passport control so I could do this. All very helpful.

However, you should note that if you are taking one of the first few trains out, the office that allows you to check such items in is not open yet. I had the choice of either waiting for a later train or relinquishing the item. As I had bookings on connecting trains in Paris and also was going on a course with a fixed arrival time I had to leave it there :(

Aurelio
MCofS - on 01 Apr 2010
In reply to MJH: When I spoke to the Eurostar folk on the phone I asked about other types of sports equipment. Ski or trekking poles are ok. As are golf clubs. However, ice axes & anything else that could be used as a weapon are not. I did point out that anything in the wrong hands could be used as a weapon. A set of golf clubs could be regarded as about 15 weapons if you choose to misuse them.

I also asked about "camping tools" & was told that it was ok to take a tent as camping tools refers to gas cannisters & cutlery - both of which are listed in their own right on the list of prohibited items.

I guess it all depends on which individual member of Eurostar staff checks your bag, but by flagging this up we are hopefully alerting climbers to be aware of the issue and to plan accordingly.
sutty on 01 Apr 2010
In reply to MCofS:

Cutlery? OK, just leave yours at home and nick some from the buffet car on the train. After all, can't leave it lying around for a deranged passenger to attack you with.
Nigel Modern on 22 Apr 2010
In reply to UKC News: I double checked about TGV and ICE restrictions but the Eurostar restrictions are only feasible owing to X-ray surveillance at St Pancras.

The man in seat 61 (http://www.seat61.com/) says try Harwich-Hook of Holland to get to Switzerland and I'll post the results if I find anything interesting - overnight on boat and 'good rail connections' the other side.
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Nigel Modern on 22 Apr 2010
In reply to MCofS: I called Eurodespatch today and they said that as long as I checked the items in with Eurodespatch (ie separate check-in) at least an hour before my departure they would travel on the same train.

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